The Celebrity Mercury cruise ship returned to port in Charleston South Carolina today with over 400 sick passengers. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 406 of the 1829 passengers (22.1%) have reported fever, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.
Unlike the last two cruises where the CDC determined that norovirus caused the outbreak, the CDC has not yet determined the cause of the outbreak. This is probably one of the reasons that the CDC issues a "no travel" advisory for the sick cruise ship.
The traveling public is faced with a cruise line who blames passengers for not washing their hands – the CDC who does not know what the pathogen is or where it’s coming from – and the ugly likelihood that the vessel’s food, water, crew or public surfaces could be contaminated.
We have been inundated with calls and emails from concerned Americans who are scheduled to travel on the Mercury over the course of the next several months. We also have heard from crew members, including some crew members who complain that although they are sick they are required to keep working. Some of the work includes changing linens, serving food and delivering ice. Very disturbing information.
There is a lot of pressure on crew members to keep outbreaks secret. We recently ran across a blog from a former crew member who wrote:
I worked on a cruise ship at the beginning of 2001 and we had a lengthy norovirus outbreak – interestingly, the ship did not make the CDC list for that year. Perhaps because we were far away in South America? Or perhaps it was because we were instructed to deny, deny, deny when any passenger asked: No sir, you’re mistaken – the dining rooms are all closed because all the guests are off on tour…not sick in their beds along with half the staff. (Yeah, I was never able to look anyone in the eye and say that.) I never got it, thank God . . . "
Here is a recent video from the AP:
Were you on the last cruise? Do you have photographs, video or information which may help explain what is happening on the Mercury?
Let us hear from you.